Alumni Weekend Memories

Having been around ballplayers for six decades, I shouldn’t be surprised at the memories they have from their playing careers.  More on that later but first a re-cap of Alumni Weekend.

Thursday’s sold-out alumni luncheon for seniors was a grand slam.  Covered that in Friday’s post.

Krukker delivered a tremendous acceptance speech during Friday night’s Wall of Fame induction ceremonies.  He left no doubt he has a love affair for Philadelphia and the fans returned that with their passionate cheering.  It was goose-bump city.

Thought we could make him cry by having his young son and daughter present his miniature copy of the WOF plaque.  Instead, his eyes were filled with pride and joy.  We always end the ceremonies with a victory lap and that is really cool, seeing the sections of fans arise as the vehicle approaches their area. 

Saturday was Alumni Night, a chance for some 45 ex-Phillies to be introduced on the field.  Rain somewhat curtailed the ceremonies but it still went well.  Alphabetically, from Amaro to Wine, a real connection with the 1964 team.  Three no-hit pitchers and three Hall of Famers.  Not many clubs can match that.

Sunday, heavy rain washed out everything.  The Kalas statue ceremonies will now take place at 6:40 p.m. on Tuesday night before the game with Arizona.  Some of the Alumni and most of the Kalas family won’t be there, but Kane Kalas and his step-sister and step-brother will be there.

The statue was installed following Saturday night’s game.  We had a tent ordered Friday in case of rain and had it installed Sunday morning, in case there was a break in the weather.  There was no break.  So, we invited the Kalas family (brother Jim and his wife, Mary; sons Todd and Brad, all of whom will not be there on Tuesday) to the park to see the statue. Sculptor Larry Nowlan explained his thinking and then unveiled the bronze statue. The smiles on Harry’s family faces said enough.  Numerous family photos were taken with the 7.5-foot statue. It was cool.

Sunday was also a day in which we had planned numerous Alumni surprises for the fans.  So, we’ll store that idea until next year.  Sorry, a surprise is a secret.

Memories, oh, yes. 

As Alumni mingled each of the three days, they reminisced about their careers.  It is an amazing how ballplayers can remember a pitch from 10-20 years ago.  Bunning can give a game-by-game run down of the fateful 10-game losing streak that robbed fans of a pennant in 1964.  Bunning remembered a hanging slider that Willie Stargell hit into the upper deck exit runway at Veterans Stadium.  “I think it finally landed in New Jersey,” he laughed.

Tony Taylor and Rick Wise were teammates and laughed about the time Gene Mauch upset all the food tables after a rookie, Joe Morgan, beat the Phillies in extra innings inHouston.  “I was a rookie and I was hungry,” recalled Wise.  “All of a sudden, here comes Gene and he’s hot, ‘Joe bleeping Morgan.’  He looked at me and said, ‘get out of here’ and then flipped the tables.”  Tony couldn’t stop laughing.

Mitch talked about the pitch he threw to Joe Carter that ended the 1993 World Series.  “As soon as I let it go, I knew the consequences,” admitted Mitch.  Kruk jumped in, “Then why did you throw it?”  Everybody broke up.

Alumni from different eras clustered together.  After all they had bonded during their years in a Phillies uniform.  They lived together for 6-7 months and went to war each game.  It creates a bond that lasts a lifetime.

Luzinski, Schmidt, Boone, Bystrom and their manager, Dallas, were at one table.  The wives are still letting Dallas know their unhappiness at not being allowed to travel with the team to Houston during the 1980 playoffs.  Yes, they were there, at their own expense.

Next night, Green, Wine and Amaro Sr. were re-living old times.  Dallas and Bobby played for Buffalo in the minors in 1959 and they were trying to recall the starting lineup. There was a tall outfielder, big bonus guy, from Texas in right field.  They knew everything about the mystery right fielder but his name. They looked my way, “Baron, who was the guy?”  Well in 1959 I was 21 years old and in college.  Yes somehow, the name came to me, Mickey Harrington.

Then, there was Freddy Schmidt, not a household Schmidt name for Phillies fans.  A right-handed pitcher, he was 5-8 with the Phillies in 1947 and at age 95, is our third oldest Alumni.  He needs a cane and wheelchair to get around but his mind is as sharp as a tack. To make it easy for him to get to the field, we brought him on the field in a golf cart and gave him a victory lap.  More goose-bumps.

Freddy talked about his days with the Cardinals (he proudly wears his 1944 World Series ring when he was a rookie in St. Louis) and May 3, 1947, trade to the Phillies.  The Phillies also received CF Harry Walker in the deal for OF Ron Northey.  Walker hit .363 and became the Phillies first batting champion since Chuck Klein in 1933.

Freddy saw Jackie Robinson break into the big leagues and heard the racist abuse directed at him. “Ben Chapman, a southern gent, was our manager and he was nasty, not only to Jackie, but he was just plain nasty.”

Freddy lives in Wind Gap, PA, and is a huge fan of the current team.  “I don’t miss a game on TV,” he boasted.  “But those west coast games are a challenge.

“What I don’t understand is why they have a pitching coach.  With that pitching staff, why do you need a coach?” he laughed.

When introduced to Ruben Amaro, Jr., Freddy said, “Getting Pence is your best move.  He’s perfect for this team.”

Alumni Weekend is a long-time Phillies tradition.  Fans love the weekend..  The Alumni really love getting together, no matter if it is Mike Schmidt or Freddy Schmidt.

8 Comments

Not to be picky but…Rick Wise was not on the team in 1963, the year that Joe Morgan got the hit that beat the Phillies and Mauch turned over the table with food. Taylor was on the team. And it didn’t happen in extra innings, it came in the bottom of the 9th of a game that Chris Short led 1-0 going into the bottom of the 9th.

Rick Wise was a rookie in 1964 so he was making the Mauch story up. Bet if Mauch had been there he wouldn’t have made it up because Gene would have remembered the entire incident. By the way, the table food landed on the suits of Wes Covington and Tony Gonzalez, ruining them. Mauch bought them both new suits.

I was at that game when Stargell hit the longest home run I have ever seen hit in person.Nothing against Bunning,he was at the end of an illustrious career,and Willie was in his prime.Never forget the sound of the crack of the bat when that shot was launched.Went to many Iggle games at theVet,never heard a louder hit.

California Dreamin – Wise WAS up in ’63. Not enough action to lose rookie status in ’64, (actually saw NO action). Per Wikipedia, Wise was only 18 years of age when he debuted for the Philadelphia Phillies in 1964, his SECOND professional season. HE was on big club for a couple games in ’63, and may well have been around during Mauch’s table flipping tirade.

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I think that the Phillies consistently overlook Tony Gonzalez and his contributions throughout the ’60s. He hit over .300 four times and was a very good (actually a record breaking) fielder. I saw where he is going to be 75 this month. I think he had much more of a role than John Briggs thats for sure. It would have been right for him to have been there.

You know, I later wondered if perhaps Wise had been brought up in September of 1963 [in those days teams brought up everybody] and did witness it. However, it was specifically discussed as being in 1964 and it occurred a year earlier.

In fact, in one of the ironies, the Phillie players who were going through the 10 game losing streak in late Sept of 1964 kept saying that they wished that Mauch would get angry and throw something, much like he did in late 1963.

By the way, most Phillie players who were there for the spare rib throwing episode later said that Mauch probably saved their 4th place finish and first division money. That loss to Houston 2-1 sent the Phils into 5th place with but 6 games to play, all on the road against the tough Giants and eventual World Champion Dodgers.

Mauch’s episode reminded them that he was not going to let them just play out the season…and they didn’t. They won 2 of 3 in SF and then swept the Dodgers in LA to finish at 87-75.

I will never forget after the sweep, Dodger GM Buzzie Bavasi was asked about meeting the Yankees in the World Series. His reply…”heck, we should just send the Phillies, right now they are the best team in the National League.”

And for 150 games in 1964 he was correct.

I would like to know why Bowa dosen”t come to any alumni events?

I thought the Wise story was partially a typo/misprint, with Wine and Wise being interchanged in a spot or two. I was 13 in 1964, at an age and an era when baseball meant everything to boys that age. I can’t imagine how it was possible, but my 11 year old brother was even more a fan than I was and our Aunt Emma hung black drapes over my brother’s Phillies pennant and other memorabila. I loved her the rest of her life, but thought that was the meanest thing she could have done.

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